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that could be passed using a more traditional set of rules. the other bill would have the more contention provisions. democrats who try to pass this bill without a single republican vote in support, under a budget related rule that only requires 51 votes to pass. that process can put legislation at risk because the rules make it easy for the minority to add on amendments that can put more holes in a bill than swiss cheese. however, the plan to split into two parts does bring some clear political benefits to the white house and democrats in congress. assuming only one bill gets passed, the white house could point to real changes. the white house would be able to -- does not get removed in advance. the spokesman for harry reid says democrats have not reached a decision yet, but did say, quote -- just today, mitt romney arty, work together with the middle of his party, republicans as well, and get a plan that gets people insured without having a government take over insurance. >> joining us now, chuck todd. what's going on right now, the president trying to address democrats, trying to get them more energized, how's that going over? >> well, look, i mean, this is not new. the white house has said this
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for months they would do this. saying look rk they're going to get a bill whatever it takes and if republicans are at the table, fine. if they're not, fine. they'll go another way. they have the votes to do that. i think part of the strategy using the budget sort of way to go around the rules a little bit was the negotiating ploy to keep republicans at the table, keep them negotiating a little bit. i'm fascinated what's going to happen tonight. there's the gang of six is going to be having a conference call. five of six seem to be on the same page of trying to find a bipartisan plan that might get 61, 62, 63 votes. grassley seems to be looking for a way out. he seems to be negotiating in public and did so again today in "the washington post." he talked about how the town
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halls have convinced him he's got to do this differently. he's got 2010 on his mind because he's up for re-election and clearly, the town hall stuff has spooked him a little bit. will he stay at the table? does baucus do everything he can to keep him there? that's going to be fascinating to watch tonight. >> carey, these people he's speaking to right now, they see the republicans as being unhelpful, they want to president to fight and it's forced health care down the republican's throat. this effort in terms of the budget reconciliation, assume a lot of stuff gets stuck in this bill and then there's just a single up or down bill and it gets defeated because maybe it doesn't have the votes. just having that up or down
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vote, is that enough to satisfy is party? >> i think they're going to wapt to see the president p push this as far as they can. they're looking for some muscle and commitment from the president. he hasn't shown it, or in the last few days, the white house has been sending some mixed signals, but they really want the public option. you saw howard dean in the "washington post" today. i don't know if you're going to see more people saying that, but that's where the left wing, progressive bloggers are and that's creating a real problem for the white house. he has a much larger audience to make an argument to. >> i'm wondering, whether they split the bill or not, it's important how to president gets out in front of this. did he present a clear, more
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focused message when he spoke with smerconish? he did go down the line and try to put out four pretty concise bullet points. is that helping? >> they've been grasping for a way to communicate better on health care. they've tried town halls, online chats, sit-down interviews. all these different things. good old fashionend put the president in a more relaxed atmosphere. he didn't filibuster his answers the way he can do at these town hall events. it was probably the best format i've seen in a gave and take and maybe because there was less choreograp choreography. many times when the white house is doing these town halls, there's always some choreography
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involved. this was bare bones and you could tell. it seems to work a lot better. he had cleaner answers. he didn't get tripped up. he still stuck to his guns as the public option in parking lot of the negotiation. he's got an end that he wants to get to if a public option is the means, fine. there's another mind set, fine. but he explained it in a clearer fashion than in previous town halls. >> and we should also point out, the president almost seemed to go out of his way to give credit to olympia snowe, chuck grassley, the republican senators who they're counting on. there's some sort of good cop, bad cop. the president -- are democrats are like, to hell with the republicans, let's do it alone. >> they had a couple of bad days when it seemed like a white
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house was going to cut the public option loose and then yesterday, i talked to health care advocates who said seeing them say publicly they can't support something even insurance reforms that are popular. chuck grassley, in some bill, includes everything they want. it really showed that no matter how much negotiating, it may not end up producing what they want and so you know, they've kind of felt like a turnaround yesterday. even tonight with this conference call, mike inze's another one we have to watch. before the august recess, he was giving democrats the most heartburn in terms of his public statements. >> interesting.
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we thank you both. monica again, in a way, you're watching a slow motion divorce, but only the white house knows when you pull the plug and make that divorce. >> moving on, massachusetts senator ted kennedy urging state leader to change a law to guarantee that his senate seat would be filled immediately if it becomes necessary for him to give it up. kennedy's aides say his letter to state leaders does not mean there's been any change in his battle with brain cancer, but a vacant seat would deny democrats a crucial vote. he writes --
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ann thompson joins us live from hyannis, massachusetts. there's been a response from the massachusetts governor and says it's typical for him to be thinking about everybody else. but he doesn't address the request. >> the law -- until the public votes in that special election. the house and senate here in massachusetts met in informal session today, but nothing was expected to happen specifically on this. they had have to pass a law in order to make this change and no one is quite sure how quickly that could get done. the interesting thing monica, is this law was changed in 2004,
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when john kerry, the other senator from massachusetts, was running for president. at that time, there was a republican governor, mitt romney, who was in office and they wanted to prevent him from appointing a successor to kerry should kerry have won that election, so that's how this law came about and now, it's sort of be careful what you wish for because now, they're in a situation where if senator kennedy resigns or dies, that there could be a five-month gap before his successor is named and is in washington representing massachusetts. >> and also you know, i think as we reported of course, the aides say this does not mean any sign of change in the the senator's health, but people are concerned. interestingly, senator john kerry quoted today saying if harry reid required 60 votes tomorrow, ted kennedy would be on a plane and be down in the
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senate to vote. >> well, i think it's the timing of this letter that has people wondering if it, despite what aides say, if it does signal that something has changed here, because if you look at the events of the past couple of weeks, the last time we saw senator kennedy was on tuesday, the day his sister, eunice, died, and he was being driven into the compound. he did not attend her wake or funeral and people saw that as a sign that he was not in good shape. and then this letter comes. it was written on july 2nd of this year and hand-delivered yesterday. you have these things coming and that's why people speculate is it indicative of things gets worse, but his aides say no. that this is just something the senator is concerned about. >> all right, thank you so much for that.
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it's interesting, david, i'm sure you looked at the senator's letter. it's not that he disagrees with the law as they've changed it in 2004, he's just so concerned about this five-month time frame. >> his mind focused on what's happening in the senate and health care and one vote could make a big difference. if you have that five-month lag, the democrats come up short and the last thing he would want is for the democrats to come up short on any vote because of
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him. up next, we'll talk to radio show host, michael smerconish. plus, outrageous today over the release of the pan am flight 103 bomber. why does he deserve any mercy at all? and we'll talk to a man who was on the phone with his girlfriend when she was suddenly abducted. the latest in the search. adding lipitor may help. unlike some other cholesterol lowering medications, lipitor is fda approved to reduce the risk... of heart attack, stroke, and certain kinds of heart surgeries... in patients with several common risk factors... or heart disease. lipitor has been extensively studd... with over 16 years of research. lipitor is not for everyone, including people with liver problems... and women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant. you need simple blood sts to check for liver problems. tell your doctor if you are taking other medications, or if you have any muscle pain or weakness. this may be a sign of a rare but serious side effect. i was caught off-guard. but maybe you can learn from my story. have a heart to heart with your doctor... about your risk.
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choice, competition, reducing costs. those are the things that i want to see accomplished in this health reform bill. >> you are watching "the big picture." that was president obama talking to conservative radio talk show host michael smerconish, about his plans to reform health care. >> here's what a woman named tracy asked. >> could you please quickly list five of six bullet points of what legislation must include for you to sign? mandates, illegal immigrants?
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must it include a public option? >> i'd be happy to. first of all, you mentioned illegal immigrants. this has been an example of just pure misinformation out there. none of the bills that have been voted on in congress and none of the proposals propose giving coverage to illegal immigrants. >> michael smerconish joins us now from the white house. i guess we can also point out he didn't really answer specifics, but it was a fascinating interview. what was your take away? >> it's kind of surreal for me. to have just walked out of the white house having concluded the second show of the day, i've got to process what has just transpired. i was thrilled to be able to put listeners on the air and i have to give credit to the
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administration for having welcomed this kind of dialogue. no parameters or rules. they know in inviting me here that they would get hopefully respectful, but derirect questis from the audience. >> in terms of the political perspective, you were able to essentially break some news in that there's been a lot of concern on the left in what the white house's approach be on republicans? here's the exchange when the president was asked by somebody about whether democrats should go alone on health care reform and whether the time has come because of the republican attacks. watch. >> my attitude has been let's see if we can get this done with some consensus. i would love to have more republicans engaged and involved in this process. i think early on, a decision was made by the republican
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leadership that said, let's not give them a victory. maybe we can have a replay of '93, '94. i think there are some folks who are taking a page out of that play book. but this shouldn't be a political issue. >> that answer may infuriate a lot of people on the left, but did you get the sense the president seemed to be more relaxed and perhaps he has a better sense of the time frame than members of his own party or members of the media? >> that's one of the themes i've heard from folks. one of the common questions or issues is, why the rush. now i should tell you, but i think that response was in part to a fellow who called the show and said, why are you getting weak-kneed, you own the whole shooting match right now in terms of control of both houses of congress and the executive
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branch. he was saying like, do the deal and still, the president was talking about bipartisan ship or at least his attempts therein. >> there was an opportunity here for the president to clear up some misinformation that's been out there. i believe someone called in and asked within a question, mentioning something about illegal immigrants and he took that opportunity to clear up his position there. >> i didn't come up from one of the callers. the reality is is that because of a law in 1986, anybody who shows up in an er has to be treated and many of them are illegal immigrants. that is really a thorn in the side of people following this. >> we appreciate you coming on. it was a terrific interview. i don't know if whether it was
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the white house, or just the fact you were doing it, but an interesting change. congratulations on the terrific show and fascinating interview. >> i'm thrilled for the opportunity. thank you for saying that. >> you did great. monica again, that whole point about there was the president sort of reaching out and trying to correct some of the misinformation out there with a largely conservative radio audience, just fascinating. >> and something about the atmosphere. it was very relaxed. something about this was different. it was palatable. in the newsroom, people noticed as well. it was great to hear callers, hey, i'm ticked off. up next, tracking hurricane bill. the latest on where it is, where it's going and how it could affect the east coast. and later, finally, the
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here's what you need to know about hurricane bill. the hurricane has lost strength in the atlantic ocean. >> that's right. yesterday we were talking about a category 4. bill is now a category 3 storm. sustained winds are at 120 miles an hour. forecasters say it is now on a course to track well west of bermuda and east of the u.s. mainland. still, officials have a warning. expect extremely dangerous and life threatening rip currents along the east coast this weekend. next, outrage over the pan am flight 103 bomber. we'll talk to the special agent in charge of the investigation. plus, a possible turning
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point for afghanistan. will today's elections help or hurt the u.s.'s effort to help the taliban?
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welcome back. i'm david schuster live in washington. >> i'm monica novotny, live in new york. the big picture right now, thousands greet al megrahi today. he boarded a plane today in scotland and was released from prison on compassionate grounds. he is dying of prostate cancer with about three months to live. al megrahi is the only person ever convicted in that attack. he was given a life sentence,
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but only served eight years. the white house said it deeply regrets the decision to release him. >> we have been in contact with the scottish government indicating that we objected to this. and we thought it was a mistake. we're now in contact with the libyan government and want to make sure that if in fact this transfer has taken place, that he is not welcomed back in some way, but instead, should be under house arrest. >> many of the families of those killed in the bombing are outraged. >> for this to happen at this point in time to the man who put the bomb on the plane is just horrible. >> this is an insane journey. 20 years later, the sad, last chapter has been written. >> it was a cold-blooded murder
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and the families have had to live with it for 20 some years now. >> in announcing the decision to free him, scotland's justice minister acknowledged al megrahi did not show his victims any compassion, but says that is not a reason to deny compassion to him. >> the grounds on which he was released -- 30 applications for release on compassionate grounds. only seven were refused, 23 granted. if the convict is ill, a medical report is required stating when death is likely. the guidelines also suggest that three months is the most prominent period. the minister can grant release only if he thinks he will not oppose a danger or reoffend.
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richard, do you believe the scottish medical authorities? >> certainly. i understand that the scottish justice department has sent to the united states documentation, so i have to live with that. >> what's your reaction then overall? a lot of people say that's doesn't matter, the fact he's got three months to live, too bad. everyone on board that flight, they didn't get a chance to say good-bye to their families. >> i agree with that. i have spoken by e-mail or in person with my counterpart in scotland, many people that i work with in law enforcement intelligence and justice department agencies, we're all very upset. it's a sad day for combatting crime and terrorism in the world, but something we have to live with and it's a decision made by the scottish justice minister and we have to live with it. >> are we making a mistake, we
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in the media, to focus on megrahi, when there was every indication that others helped him on the way who we were not able to bring to justice? >> that's true. we know there were others. some we know their names, others, we have no idea who these people were. we hope he stayed in jail long enough that he would tell the truth, but his family was living in libya with the libyan government watching them so i think he was precluded from his involvement. unfortunately, we could never bring evidence against those people to put them in jail. >> so many of the family members are obviously deeply upset. there's a quote in one report today, a woman who lost her husband. he says -- do you get a sense that there's more here beyond
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just compassionate grounds? >> i've heard that from other families today, that this is all politics. it has something to do with business. gadhafi made the statement that there would be no being together with the u.s. until mr. megrahi was allowed to come home. almost a blackmail situation. the justice minister made a decision. compassionate grounds is not a normal reason people are released from prison in the united states during my time in the fbi. >> thanks so much for coming on today. we appreciate it. monica, i think the whole point about, the idea that this guy gets to spend is last three months at home with his family when everybody on that plane did not. >> you think how many of those parents would have loved, we heard from some, how many of them would have loved to have spent those last days with their
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children. adult children, who they didn't get a chance to say good-bye. very upsetting. let's move on. close up. election day in afghanistan. ballot counting is underway. voting was even extended for one hour. results aren't expected until saturday. violence did appear to hurt voting in the south. a new "washington post" abc news poll finds more americans see the war in afghanistan as one not worth fighting. 51% say it hasn't been worth it. 47% say it has been. msnbc military analyst and retired military general joins us live. in the run up to this election, we've heard a lot about the fact that this could be a benchmark of sorts, to see how far the afghan government has come and
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how far the obama administration in the last six months has come as they've shifted strategy and added troops. >> so far, so good. actually a reasonably good outcome. the process worked fairly well. the observers, it looks as if the leading candidates, the top three, have accepted this as a legitimate election. not a huge amount of violence. 70 some odd incidents in 15 provinces. maybe two dozen killed. a low turnout in much of the country, certainly the south. i think it's a good thing. it's behind us. but this is not a turning point cht this is not a benchmark. this is good news, but we have a very dangerous, very complex situation in afghanistan. >> what do you think of
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americans saying, this is just not worth it? >> i'm sympathetic. it's $4 billion a month. we've got a recession going on. it's a chaotic, dangerous environment. our allies have been sort of shaky except for the britts. it's a terribly corrupt country. having said that, it's a good argument that pakistan and afghanistan and their stability have very security interests to the united states. the question is, can we explain that to the american people. yes or no. >> you mentioned that two-year time frame. what is the best case, but realistic scenario at the end of two years and how confident are you that scenario is actually going to happen? >> well, i'm not sure two years is much of anything except on my part saying it's hard to imagine seeing much beyond that with any
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level of certainty. in the two years to come, my level of certainty would be it shouldn't get a lot better. we have to build ar began army and police forces. we've got to get the agricultural sector to work. we've got to get karzai's government to be more effective at delivering services. two years, it's going to be a real struggle. if we're effective and stay for a decade, i would assume we could help the afghans build a viable state. 4 billion a month, we spend a lot of money there. and pakistan by the way, is the real, strategic challenge, not afghanistan. >> as always, thank you, sir. an interesting point, david, things do seem to have gone well today. the general did mention the low voter turnout, but we have to wait several days.
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the question now will be how will the counting go. >> and whether the counting will produce the result that is the united states government wants. with all the corruption in the karzai government, you've got to be thinking what could the united states have done differently. up next -- fact versus fiction in the health care debate. who's to blame for all that misinformation still gaining traction with the american public. plus, would you ever put your 8-year-old son, yes, that's an 8-year-old, on the wheel of an airplane? limb: dude that was sick! i've been hangin' up there for, what, like, forty years? and then - wham - here i am smacking the pretty off that windshield of yours. oh, what you're looking for an apology?
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well, toss another coin in the wishing well, pal. it's not happenin'. limb: hey, what's up, donnie? how you been? anncr: accidents are bad. anncr:but geico's good ding! with onsite windshield replacement. but those days came and went, and the cigarettes remained. but today's a new day. and a few simple steps can make a real difference in your next quit... things like starting with a plan to quit smoking... getting support... and talking to your doctor about how prescription treatments can help you.
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talk to your doctor about prescription treatment options. and make this time, your time. find them, share them with mastercard's priceless picks app. download it now. what do you say to a spin around the color wheel? - to paint with primer already mixed in? - ♪ yeah yeah yeah... - test samples instead of can commitments? - ♪ whoo! - what do you say we dip into our wallets less... - ♪ are you feeling it? - ...and grab ahold of the latest tools out there... - ♪ oh!
3:41 pm we can quit all that messing around with extra steps - and get busy turning our doing dials up a notch? - ♪ whoo! ♪ oh! more saving. more doing. - that's the power of the home depot. - ♪ yeah yeah yeah. in today's "making their case," as americans try to make the case for or against health
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care reform, are we forming our views on fact or fiction? >> a new poll reveals the effort to misinform the public is having a serious impact. get this, half think the government should stay out of medicare, 39% said yes -- medicare as many of you know, is already a single-payer, government-run program. then there's our nbc news poll which found that people think health care reform will result in the following -- the during his interview today,
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a caller asked the president about covering illegal immigrants. >> this has been an example of pure misinformation. none of the proposals out of the white house propose giving coverage to illegal immigrants. none of them. that has never been on the table. nobody has discussed it. >> here to make their case are same jacobs and brian townin. brian, who's responsible for the misinformation? >> i'd say there's misinformation on both sides. i think one thing to realize is that you're asking the american people what they think will happen. beyond that, i think both sides are at fault. we have the president saying he's never endorsed single payer health care. >> brian, you would agree that not all news organizations are even.
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here's the nbc poll. they separated out fox news viewers versus nbc. will it lead to a government takeover? 79%. does the bill include government decisions about elderly care? 75% of fox viewers believe it does. you know there's nothing like that in the bill. how come three out of four viewers at fox believe that? >> the poll said, will it lead to. there are members of congress promising there will be abortion coverage. if you ask me whether i want the government involved -- doesn't answer the question. >> well -- sam, it's awfully difficult to have a discussion when people are discussing what might happen. what will happen, could we be
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billionaires tomorrow? it's hard having that conversation when people think things, when they're scared by the shadows, isn't it? >> sure. and that's a good point. brian is right that perhaps these poll questions are confusing, but the reality is that many on the right have chosen political calculation over courage. it's not surprising people like rush limbaugh -- what is surprising is that few in the senate who are conservative are willing to stand up for truth instead of the fringe. >> speaking of lies -- the government involvement is unconstitutional. do you agree? >> i haven't heard the quote. i would not say it's unconstitutional. >> so, she's wrong? >> if that's all there is to quote, i don't agree.
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if you're talking about who's misleading -- the president is tauging about a deficit -- >> how is he misrepresenting his previous stances, given the current system, he believes that the public option is the way to go and to protect the private health insurance market. what have you heard? >> in 2003, he said i for one believe in a single payer health care system. >> and said that he was starting the system from scratch. >> i don't believe he said that. also, he has said as many liberals have said, that this would lead to a single payer health care system. if people are confused, the president needs to go back and address this. >> sam, you get the last word. >> this is a complicated issue and i hope we can have our politicians speak more clearly as the president did today. it seems the american people are
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confused and being a bit fooled. >> we appreciate you both very much and you know, i would suggest monica, that if people are really concerned about a government takeover, then republicans should stand up and say it's time to get rid of medicare, social security. it's time to get rid of the veterans administration because they're all run by the government. >> i don't know that they'll do that -- >> a lack of political courage. health care will be the issue on this week's "meet the press." that should be a fun show. >> we'll all be watching. up next, we've got a cable news exclusive. we will talk to a man whose girlfriend was kidnapped while she was talking on the phone with him. it is a tragic story. >> and now, he is joining with her family to ask for the public's health. we will talk to him after this. ] the deeper you clean,
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welcome back. there have been no clues for nearly eight days, but the boyfriend of a missing georgia woman still is holding out hope that she's okay. >> 38-year-old kristi cornwell vanished more than a week ago. the mother and former probation officer disappeared while on an evening walk along a country road near her parents' home in blairsville, georgia. at the time she was on her cell phone talking to her boyfriend, and she told him that a car was following her. her boyfriend, douglas davis, a speaking publicly in his first cable television interview. we're so sorry you're going through this. >> thank you. >> let me ask you, how is the family doing? she has a 15-year-old son. >> yes, and he is with his dad and with his grandfather and they're great guys. i know they're looking out after him well. it is hard for him, no doubt. i mean, the anxiety he's going through is tremendous. but he's got a great support
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network around him. he's well-loved in his high school where he's an "a" student, and they're looking out after him. >> douglas, what can you tell me? i know you can't speak too specifically, but what can you tell me about this phone call? you were on the phone talking to christi essentially when this happened. >> well, we were discussing just life, plans. we were talking about a date on thursday evening, a dinner and just doing what you do when you talk on the phone, you know. she referenced there was a car coming. such a rural road you normally walk on the street, not the bank. she said i need to move off the road. at that point things began to happen, and i really can't go into that because of the ongoing investigation. >> but you could tell from the tone of her voice certainly -- >> absolutely. >> that sincerely was wrong. >> it sent terror through me and a sense of helplessness. i was 2 1/2 hours away. there was no way to get there, and i felt -- i just was at my wits end what to do. i called her name. i wanted something to be done.
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i didn't know what to do. immediately kept her line open and picked up a cell phone from a relative and started dialing 911 locally. unfortunately, we were five counties away. >> what a horrible, helpless feeling it must have been. >> unfortunately, the 911 system is great for local but it didn't work in that scenario. bad phone numbers were given and it delayed a few minutes. >> what about investigators now? what are they telling you now? >> i spoke to gbi today. they're still retracing the events of the evening and some of the things that she may have carried with her personally and they are still optimistic. >> do you have any reason to believe that there was anyone out there who may have wanted to harm her in some way? >> absolutely not. our conversations we had talked a lot about our pasts. we had developed our relationship and that was part of doing that, and there was never any mention of anybody. she did have a job dealing with
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people on parole and that sort of thing, and obviously, you know, suspicion is there and i know the gbi have been vetting those cases. however, from her conversations that was a long time ago and nothing new, nothing happening recently. she felt very secure. she's very much a free spirit, as she would like to say, and, you know, a woman should be able to walk down the street in front of her house, and that's the way she felt. >> absolutely. >> so she did just that, and it was normal for her. >> douglas davis, we wish you all the best. we hope for the best in this investigation. >> thank you, monica. >> thank you. you know, monica, your last question and his last answer was revealing and also still frustrating, the idea that there's -- she never talked about any sort of fears or somebody who might be out there that she was worried about, and except for, i suppose, the possibility a long time ago that maybe somebody from her dealings with probation, but again it gets to the idea that this is such a frustrating and heartwrenching investigation
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because it doesn't sound like we have an easy way to develop some leads. >> and the fbi is involved now as well, david, as you know. coming up in our next hour here on "the big picture." selling health care. president obama online and on the air waves pushing his vision for reform. is it too little too late or does he have the best sense of all about the timing. and justice denied. more on the outrage of the release of the an pam bomber. plus, outsourcing assassination. reports that the cia hired private contractors from the controversial blackwater firm for its secret program to kill al qaeda terrorists. w chevy equ with an epa estimated 32 miles per gallon. and up to 600 miles between fill ups. it's the most fuel efficient crossover on the highway. better than honda cr-v, toyota rav4
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now say they may split the reform bill into at least two pieces. will breaking the legislation into two parts finally get the president what he wants? and where would that leave the gop? plus, death squads for hire? frightening new disclosures about george w. bush's cia. reports of private contractors hired to carry out targeted al qaeda killings. congress was kept in the dark, but was the law broken? later, republican senator john ensign claims his extramarital affair was not as bad as bill clinton's. and what does elizabeth edwards know about whether her husband is the baby daddy of a woman who used to work for his campaign? >> dna tests, do you know if anything is going to happen? >> my expectation is at some point something happens. and, yes, this plane is flying, and, yes, that 8-year-old boy is taking a walk on the wild side. and the other things we thought yo

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